How to write an interim CV
Interim management is a highly competitive business, and it’s important that your CV sets you apart from the crowd. This doesn’t mean adopting flashy formatting, diagrams and pictures. In fact, in some cases, such an approach can actually jeopardise your chance of success. The CV is a key piece of your marketing material and it’s important to spend time getting it right. The following guidelines should set you well on your way to developing an effective CV, which may get you that all important interview. From then on, it’s up to you.
Who will receive your CV?
The likelihood is that you will be sending your CV to either an interim provider, direct to a potential client or to one or more of your other chosen routes to market such as people in your personal network, business banking service or Venture Capital Company. So let’s begin by looking at a CV from their perspective – always a good place to start.
The Client’s Perspective
The client is going to select an interim manager based on their Competence (have they the skills and knowledge needed), Credibility (have they the right experience in the right places), Compatibility (will they ‘fit in’, do they speak the same language). The CV should aim to demonstrate as much as possible how you meet these three criteria.
Put another way, a client will in most cases see an ideal candidate as having solved the type of problem they currently have, probably within the same sector and within a respected organisation of a similar size.
Now, it’s not an ideal world and it’s unlikely anyone will be a perfect fit on all counts, but the closer you get to the ideal, the greater the likelihood of winning the assignment.
The Interim Provider’s Perspective
Some interim providers get between 50 and 400+ CV’s every month. They look for key information which indicates the candidate has the profile (seniority, experience, functional knowledge etc) that they work with.
If they do, then it is likely the interim provider will scan the CV into a database (some may wish to meet you before they do this). When the interim provider identifies and assignment, they will then go to their database and do an initial trawl and possibly a key word search, which will identify potential candidates. If the search identifies you as a potential candidate, the interim provider will want to speak/meet with you (if they have not done so already) to check your availability, brief you on the assignment and further assess your suitability. They may also give you the opportunity to tailor your CV for the specific opportunity. (This does not mean to create a work of fiction that will land you an assignment you can’t deliver on, but it means to emphasise and add in any aspects of your skills, knowledge or experience that are particularly relevant!).
It’s not possible to gain complete agreement on exactly how a CV should be structured. However the following guidelines have been compiled following discussions with many clients and interim providers and should prove very valuable in putting together an effective CV.
- The primary focus of your CV should be on what you have achieved recently, the results you have got, the business transformations you have led.
- Start with a brief statement which clearly describes what you are capable of – your Value Proposition (who you are, what you do, what you have achieved). Be factual as people get wary/weary of vague clichés such as “highly motivated”, “enthusiastic”, “confident”.
- Follow this with a summary of your career in reverse chronological order. A line which describes your role and start and end dates followed by bullet points outlining your key achievements, quantified wherever possible. Demonstrating a coherent role progression is valuable.
- Personal details can be added at the end
- Keep it to 2/3 pages at most
- Get a name to send it to where possible and include a covering letter/E Mail highlighting the main thrust of your CV
Specific to interim providers
- Target interim providers who work in your area of expertise. Although many are generalists, others will specialise in certain sectors e.g. public sector, certain functions e.g. HR and certain levels e.g. board level only.
- Send your CV electronically. It will be easier for the interim provider to load it into their database.
- As the CV is likely to be downloaded into a database, fancy formatting, pictures and diagrams will complicate this hugely. The simpler the better for most service providers
- Make sure therefore that all the relevant key words for the roles you have held, the industries you have worked in and your achievements are included in your CV.
- Some interim providers get so many CV’s that they have do not have the time to read them all in depth. Some will admit that they will pull a CV up on their screens and make a decision based on what they immediately see (this equates to about the first half page!). Make sure that you fill that first half page with important information you want to get across (this will probably be at least your value proposition and your last role along with your key achievements).